arts entertainmentPerforming Arts

Dallas Summer Musicals figures out a clever way to beat the pandemic, so hello, Vanessa Williams

“Live from the West Side” has proven to be a streaming sensation.

The pandemic has taken a fierce toll on Dallas-area arts organizations, Dallas Summer Musicals in particular. DSM recently announced that it would remain dark until May of next year, when it hopes to unveil the Tony Award-winning Hadestown. (The key word being “hopes.”)

In the meantime, Dallas Summer Musicals has figured out a clever way to give something back to its patrons while also enhancing the bottom line. It’s a phrase we’ve used often in 2020 but, once again, call it a way to make lemonade out of lemons.

Earlier this year, Dallas Summer Musicals debuted Live from the West Side, which brings to your living room an evening of entertainment from a Broadway notable. The first one featured Christopher Jackson from Hamilton. Next came Patti LuPone, followed by Laura Benanti. The fourth and final installment stars Vanessa Williams on Saturday night, Dec. 5. The shows feature Broadway luminaries giving you a full evening of live entertainment with their own special commentary. Benanti was especially funny and poignant.

“It brings in a little bit of revenue,” says Dallas Summer Musicals’ executive Mike Richman. “And it’s also a touchpoint with our patrons, bringing some live entertainment into their lives during this time when our stages are dark.”

DSM is actually co-producing the series, which it shares with more than 20 other nonprofits around the country.

“We’re working on some additional shows for early 2021,” says Richman, who adds that “watching the chat function during the shows has been absolutely amazing, having people say that these live-stream shows have made their months, made their quarantine. It gives them an opportunity — even though it’s through a screen — to interact with their Broadway idols.”

Tickets to the Vanessa Williams show cost $30, and you can obtain them at the company’s website, dallassummermusicals.org.

Vanessa Williams will appear online as part of "Live from the West Side," which is co-produced by Dallas Summer Musicals.
Vanessa Williams will appear online as part of "Live from the West Side," which is co-produced by Dallas Summer Musicals.(Rod Spicer)
In This Story

Michael Granberry, Arts Writer. Michael Granberry was born and grew up in Dallas. He graduated from Samuell High School in Pleasant Grove in 1970 and from Southern Methodist University in 1974. Between his junior and senior years, he interned at The Washington Post during "the Watergate summer" of 1973. He spent 19 years at the Los Angeles Times before returning to Dallas.

mgranberry@dallasnews.com @mgranberry
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